What scales

efficiency scales but isn’t memorable

inefficiency is memorable but doesn’t scale

~ “Gaping Void” from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2022/09/20/core-human-motivations-thoughts-inspired-by-kunal-shah/

This post over on Gaping Void is a great tour of their illustration style. There are several fun and interesting take-aways from a podcast episode from a different favorite site of mine, Farnam Street.

The point (from Shah, in the podcast) about what scales and what doesn’t has always fascinated me. If I try to imagine how to build something (whatever it is) in a way that it will scale up to “huge” it never works out well. Planning for scale up front, involves huge amounts of time, and then huge amounts of building. Instead, I like to think of technology (or any system) as a force multiplier; can I, by my own linear work, do something whose affect can be multiplied through technology?


Eggs and omelettes

There is no angst. There is no disease, suffering, and death. There is no killing. There’s no lust or envy or avarice of pride. There are no eviction notices or IRS audits.

In other words, it isn’t real life.

~ Gaping Void from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2021/07/19/the-power-of-culture/

But that’s particularly difficult to remember when you are the down-the-stairs end of something monsterous and the up-the-stairs person is going s l o w l y and futzing with their grip. Or when you are traffic. (My omission of the word “in” is intentional.) Or the queue at the security check point is crazy. The children on the bus are unruly. The tire goes flat. The microwave craps out. And on and on. Because it’s precisely in those moments that we choose what sort of person we want to be.

Presume good intent. Trust, (but verify. My fave Russian proverb, btw.) Everyone we meet is fighting a great battle. No one knows how hard I work—read that as “I” in your mind’s reading voice, so it really refers to yourself—therefore, I know not how hard others work. There are lots of ways to aphorize the sentiment, and I use every single one of them, every day, as I don the armor of the Angel of my Better Nature and try.



But it was the problem that mattered. It was the customer’s problem that needed fixing, not Charlie’s spiritual state. He took an ordinary thing and elevated it. That’s all. That’s all… In the real world, this is how it’s done.

~ David Essman from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2021/06/09/take-something-ordinary-and-elevate-it/

Suppose I wanted to elevate the art of conversation. What don’t I know about conversations? (That’s not snark, but an actual question for myself.) Who is good at conversations? Who do the masses think is good, and who is objectively good? Actually, what if the art of conversation is just fine— fully elevated so to speak? What if I wanted to elevate others’ conversations to the highest level of the art? How would I do that? Would it be enough to sit in a tower and learn everything there is to know about the art? No, I think I would have to learn as much as possible and go out into the marketplace, (that’s a Diogenes reference,) and have as many conversations as possible. What if I tried to make each conversation intentional— pay attention to it, and try to learn something from each one? What would happen if you intentionally did that thousands of times?

I don’t know. Let’s find out.


We create stuff

I was going to put together a little post to geek out about the helicopter that flew successfully on Mars. (Just in case you hadn’t heard about that: I’ll pause here, while you re-read that sentence.)

Anyway, turns out that pretty much everyone else on the Internet has done a better job than I could have. For example, here’re four things you should see:

Nasa’s Ingenuity Helicopter succeeds in Historic First Flight. Yes, they attached a wee bit of the original Wright Flyer to that helicopter.

XKCD is… well… it’s XKCD: Aviation Firsts

And Universe Today, (which you should follow and read every word, forever) has, You Wouldn’t Believe What I Just Saw. I demand that you click through that link to see the selfie tweeted by the Perseverance rover. Selfie. Persey even has it’s own Twitter account.

We are the Creator Species. We create stuff. From learning how to make a fire to painting the Sistine Chapel to putting drones on Mars, that’s our jam.

~ Gaping Void from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2021/04/19/human-potential-mars-style/

Hey look. I put together a little post to geek out about . . .


Why storytelling is a big deal

But forget business for a minute. Stores are much bigger than that, they’re central to our human existence. The way we shape reality is through storytelling. If we can tell a story about it, that means it exists. And this explains our species’ unique capacity for metaphor…for that is how we turn abstract ideas into stories.

~ “Gaping Void” from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2019/01/15/the-real-reason-why-storytelling-is-a-big-deal/

As I mentioned in the meta-interview of me for the Movers Mindset podcast, I love stories and story-telling. But helping others tell their stories is what I enjoy most about the interviews. Everyone is so incredibly different—yes, I too thought that was obvious before I started interviewing people. ;) Some people, I have nothing more to do then press the ‘record’ button. Some people, have something they need to say but it takes hours of conversation to figure that out before I can press ‘record’.

I’ll be candid: The podcast is incredibly painful to create. Until you’ve tried it—I urge you to never try it, by the way—you cannot understand how much time, effort, and money it takes to do it well … did I mention the time? Worse, the more I work on the craft of story-telling, interviewing, and the countless nuances of producing a show. Bottomless, hopeless, endless, thankless, merciless.

But then I randomly listen to an episode from the catalog, one from a while ago that I’ve sort of half-forgotten and I remember why it would be inconceivable to stop this early in the journey.